Testifying Wednesday before the Budget Committee of the House of Representatives, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke demanded that Congress and the Obama administration map out a program of austerity measures to bring down record budget deficits. Bernanke made clear that the heart of this program should be sharp cuts in social spending, including basic entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare.
Well, duh! You didn't expect Bernanke to come out in favor of increased social spending, did you? Indeed, austerity budgets are part of the neoliberal playbook. Let the financial institutions plunder a country, and then make that country's population suffer a shrinking of their safety net.
"Maintaining the confidence of the financial markets," Bernanke said in prepared remarks to the committee, "requires that we, as a nation, begin planning now for the restoration of fiscal balance."
I bet he said this one with a straight face. The financial markets are, to a great extent, what have failed us in this crisis of capitalism. I should think it would be the financial markets which need to regain our confidence. Silly me.
The phrase "confidence of the financial markets" is a euphemism for the interests of Wall Street and major international banks and investors. In demanding the preparation of austerity measures to be imposed on the American people, Bernanke was speaking in behalf of the financial elite whose massive taxpayer subsidies have been the major cause of the explosive growth over the past year of the federal deficit and the US national debt.
And it's been Bernanke and the Fed which have been doing most of the shoveling. At least $12.8 trillion has be poured into the financial markets in an attempt to right them. You would think Ben wouldn't be quite so keen to cut our social safety net, if only to be nice to the people who are financing his spending binge.
I'll let you read the rest of the article. You'll read how unemployment is expected to continue to rise at an astounding rate. You'll read how the Obama administration's policies fit rather nicely with Bernanke's vision. You'll be left to wonder how well allowed this to happen to ourselves, and what we're going to do about it. You'll also be left to wonder how the US economy ever got to the position of being on the precipice of being a third world economy.